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Mom searches for daughter among thousands at shelters

Honduran 13-year-old likely in US shelter

HOUSTON – Neyri Rodriguez's mother said her daughter is just one among tens of thousands of immigrant children now in U.S. shelters, but where?

"I don't know what to do anymore," said Mercedes Rodriguez in Spanish, holding her 13-year-old daughter's photograph.

"No one wants to tell me anything," she said. "Why? I'm her mother."

Without the identification number given to each arrival, Rodriguez said officials have told her they can't help her.

Rodriguez said she's made dozens of phone calls over the past two weeks after learning her daughter was picked up by U.S. Border Patrol in McAllen, along with Neyri's aunt and cousin.

She said another relative was notified by Border Patrol about her sister and niece, but no one has contacted her about Neyri.

Yet Rodriguez said Neyri carried her mother's phone number with her, but she was told that it was taken by Border Patrol agents.

"She didn't memorize it, so she hasn't called me," Rodriguez said.

Neyri's mother said she has called the bilingual hotline (1-800-203-7001) set up by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement and contacted other agencies, including the Honduran consulate.

"'Just wait,' they tell me," Rodriguez said. "They don't understand how one feels."

She said her frustration only adds to the anguish of not knowing where Neyri was taken.

Rodriguez said she can't sleep worrying about her daughter's health and welfare.

"All this has probably made her sick, but I hope I'm wrong," Rodriguez said.

She said Neyri had been a very sick baby and to pay for her surgeries, Rodriguez came to find work in the U.S. when her daughter was only 3 years old.

Rodriguez said although they spoke regularly by phone, "She was coming because she missed me."

The mother said, "They didn't want to tell me they were coming because I would have said no."

Rodriguez said she is well aware of the dangers involved in the more than 1,000-mile journey from Honduras.

Even so, she said Neyri, her aunt and cousin came by bus and a smuggler.

Rodriguez said she came to the U.S. over a decade ago because the "pobreza," the poverty in Honduras, made it impossible to support her ailing child.

She said now her country is afflicted by "maldad," evil, that even preys on young girls like Neyri.

Rodriguez said now her worst fear is not finding her daughter.

"I don't know what I'd do," she said, her face streaked with tears. "All I ask is that someone help me, that their heart is touched."